Ahh, the New York Stock Exchange. Icon of free-market capitalism. Manhattan landmark. Trading floor filled with old-timey stockbrokers in blue jackets, yelling orders into two phones at a time. A wholly owned subsidiary of a twelve-year-old Internet-based commodities derivatives exchange headquartered next to the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta.
We, too, are confused by the news that the NYSE has agreed to be acquired by the Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange, or ICE, in an $8.2 billion deal that would put the Big Board in the hands of an outsider for the first time in its 220-year history.
The ostensible reason for the deal is to “broadly expand ICE’s profile from an energy-focused futures-market operator to a fully-diversified exchange company running stock, options, futures and trade-clearing services on both sides of the Atlantic,” according to the Journal. But we all know this is just the latest step in a deliberate rise to dominance from the Peach State, one that began with hosting the 1996 Olympics and ended with the Falcons steamrolling the Giants last week.
ICE tried to buy our stock exchange once before, in tandem with Nasdaq last year. But the deal was called off by regulators, who had antitrust concerns and also presumably balked at the idea of some freckle-faced Georgia upstart playing ball with our boys.
But now that ICE has gone ahead and made a solo bid, there’s really nothing we can do to stop it. According to DealBook, the combined ICE/NYSE will be based in both Atlanta and New York, and ICE plans to keep the NYSE building in Lower Manhattan open for now.
Now, granted, the stock exchange doesn’t really do anything anymore. As Felix Salmon points out, it’s little more than a tourist attraction at this point, and the vast majority of actual trading has all moved to electronic exchanges.
Still, right before Christmas, this is not what New York needed. Further investigation is necessary, clearly, but for now, we’re pretty sure Ludacris is somehow responsible.